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In mid-November, Founder and President Mary Gordon visited New Brunswick to give the keynote address at  Hope Restored/ L’espoir renaît: NB Trauma Conference 2023. Mary spoke of Collective Trauma, Collective Hope where she highlighted the cumulative effect of trauma and how empathy provides us with hope for the future.

Hope Restored/L’espoir renaît: NB Trauma Conference 2023, November 8-10

Described as a “Trauma Invested Practices Conference”, Mary Gordon was invited to be the keynote speaker on November 8th, addressing 770 conference delegates in her talk titled, Collective Trauma, Collective Hope.  Delegates were from a variety of professional fields such as education, government, military, RCMP, and social work,  and they came from across Canada and from parts of the United States.

Her presentation painted a realistic picture of the state of childhood in the new Anthropocene era. She explained that we are experiencing a crisis of connection at a time when relationships are understood as being paramount to our wellbeing and mental health. Trauma in childhood casts a lifelong shadow. Collective, individual, and cumulative trauma can lead to toxic stress, necessitating the need for resilience in children that can be fostered through preventative intervention. Video, children’s art, narratives, and research prove that the Roots of Empathy program gives rise to hope for childhoods with the capacity to form more friendships – connections that improve mental health and wellbeing.

Trauma Conference Logo form 2023_New Brunswick

Roots of Empathy’s History as a Trauma Informed Program. A Break-out Session November 9th at the Hope Restored/ L’espoir renaît: NB Trauma Conference 2023

In this session, Mary Gordon was joined by Julie Lundberg, Director of Curriculum and the Director of Atlantic Canada,  Annie Oh, Research and Evaluation Coordinator, and Darlene MacDonald, Program Manager, NB & PEI. Together, they shared Roots of Empathy’s History as a Trauma Informed Program.

Julie spoke about Roots of Empathy program’s ability to  buffer traumatic events by fostering children’s emotional literacy that helps children understand themselves, connect to one another and build relationships. Annie shared the most recent research on Roots of Empathy and evidence from a formal evaluation conducted in Alberta, “Family Violence, Wellbeing and Resilience: An Evaluation of Roots of Empathy’s Impact on Children.” Darlene’s presentation powerfully drew upon 20 years of  experiences from around the “Green Blanket” including examples of emotional literacy and the impact of the program on past student participants and their teachers.

Thank you to the conference organizers, the New Brunswick Department of Education and Early Childhood, the Department of Justice and the Department of Public Health for providing an opportunity for Roots of Empathy along with other experts in the field such as our friend Dr. Michael Ungar, a resilience expert from Dalhousie University, share information and solutions that can restore hope.